Now is the winter of our discontent – so begins the first Act of the Chronicles of the Corporate Transparency Act

The Corporate Transparency Act went into full effect on January 1, 2024. For all existing “reporting companies” on 12/31/2023 – they must complete the filing by January 1, 2025.  New reporting companies formed in the US on and after 1/1/2024 must file within 90 days of formation. The filing is done at – either by downloading a fillable PDF, or by completing the form online.

A “reporting company” is essentially any corporation or LLC formed by filing with an applicable State corporation office in the US, unless the entity is exempt (see for a list) – and that list has some oddball exemptions, for example, accounting firms are exempt, but not law firms, and “Venture capital fund adviser[s]” are also exempt.  So the first issue is that any existing or newly formed company must determine if it is exempt from this disclosure.

If a company is not exempt, now it must gather all the relevant documentation for “beneficial owners”.  A beneficial owner is:

  • “with respect to an entity, an individual who, directly or indirectly, through any contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or otherwise … exercises substantial control over the entity [or] owns or controls not less than 25 percent of the ownership interests of the entity;”
  • but does not include “(i) a minor child, as defined in the State in which the entity is formed, if the information of the parent or guardian of the minor child is reported in accordance with this section; (ii) an individual acting as a nominee, intermediary, custodian, or agent on behalf of another individual; (iii) an individual acting solely as an employee of a corporation, limited liability company, or other similar entity and whose control over or economic benefits from such entity is derived solely from the employment status of the person; (iv) an individual whose only interest in a corporation, limited liability company, or other similar entity is through a right of inheritance; or (v) a creditor of a corporation, limited liability company, or other similar entity, unless the creditor meets the requirements of subparagraph (A).”


Each beneficial owner and each “company applicant” has to report identification information and it is onerous: 

(A) The full legal name of the individual;

(B) The date of birth of the individual;

(C) A complete current address consisting of: (1) In the case of a company applicant who forms or registers an entity in the course of such company applicant’s business, the street address of such business; or (2) In any other case, the individual’s residential street address;

(D) A unique identifying number and the issuing jurisdiction from one of the following documents: (1) A non-expired passport issued to the individual by the United States government; (2) A non-expired identification document issued to the individual by a State, local government, or Indian tribe for the purpose of identifying the individual; (3) A non-expired driver’s license issued to the individual by a State; or (4) A non-expired passport issued by a foreign government to the individual, if the individual does not possess any of the documents described in paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(D)(1), (b)(1)(ii)(D)(2), or (b)(1)(ii)(D)(3) of this section; and

(E) An image of the document from which the unique identifying number in paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(D) of this section was obtained.


Unfortunately this affects nearly all of our corporate and business clients, the majority of which will not be exempt.  While I recognize that the purposes of this Act are laudable – to prevent, or least make easier to discover, funding of illegal activity (see note), the Act, like so many other laws and regulations, is going to be a major burden to small business with, in the author’s view, little benefit.  Criminals are going to either not report, report fraudulently, or avoid reporting by hiding under an exemption.

And to top it all off, the use of this Act to actually commit fraud has already started.  When you visit the main page, at the top, the site warns “Alert: FinCEN has been notified of recent fraudulent attempts to solicit information from individuals and entities who may be subject to reporting requirements under the Corporate Transparency Act.” Sooner or later this database will also likely be breached and sensitive data leaked to hackers and other criminals for misuse.

 (note:  From the opening of the proposed rules for the CTA “Illicit actors frequently use corporate structures such as shell and front companies to obfuscate their identities and launder their ill-gotten gains through the U.S. financial system. Not only do such acts undermine U.S. national security, but they also threaten U.S. economic prosperity: shell and front companies can shield beneficial owners’ identities and allow criminals to illegally access and transact in the U.S. economy, while creating an uneven playing field for small U.S. businesses engaged in legitimate activity.”)

 For assistance in compliance with the CTA, please contact Mike Oliver


Avoiding a Fair Use Fiasco


The internet is littered with millions of images – taken by professional and amateur photographers alike, that contain NO identification of the author of the image. In part, this may be because it is not known, and in part it could be that the “meta data” in the image – which if done professionally will typically have the author’s name and the claim of copyright embedded as text inside the file (known as EXIF data) – is stripped off.

A recent decision in the 3rd Circuit (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Virgin Islands), Murphy v. Millennium Radio Group, LLC, [] demonstrates how dangerous it is to post on your website an image that does not contain this “copyright management information.”

In Murphy, a professional photographer took a picture of two radio show shock jocks, partially nude, for a print publication. The photographer maintained copyright. A radio station employee scans the image, posts it on the radio station website, and invites people to “photoshop” the image in a contest. No attribution identifying the photographer is given.

The photographer sues and loses in the trial court – essentially because that court believed the use was a fair use or licensed. The appellate court, however, reverses. It holds that under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the “copyright management information” includes identification of the author of the image. Of important note – the DMCA for the purposes of this provisions, has no “fair use” defense – in other words, the copyright management information must always be included.

The take away here is that if you are electronically displaying images in which you are not the author, the EXIF file data – the data that is embedded in the image and can be read by software to see the copyright management information – cannot be stripped off the file. In addition, if you are using stock photography, or manage a stock photo site, the EXIF data must be retained in the image.

For more information, please contact Mike Oliver.

Protecting Your Work Online

Dilemma: You find out that a company has copied an article that you created from your website, and it is using it on its website as if it had written the article itself. You want to stop them from using your article but you do not have a copyright registration for anything on your website. What can you do to stop them?

Copyright registrations offer numerous benefits, including the benefits of bringing an action for copyright infringement to enjoin the infringing company from using your work and obtaining statutory damages. A copyright registration is required to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. However, even at this stage where a company is using your work and you do not have a registration, you could file an application for copyright registration on an expedited basis and then file an action for infringement. Regarding damages, those are limited in this situation to actual damages, whereas if you had previously obtained a copyright registration, typically you could obtain statutory damages and be eligible attorneys’ fees, which could be significantly higher than actual damages.

In addition, even without a registration, you are still protected under United States copyright laws, and there are options available to you to stop others from using your material without your permission without filing a lawsuit.

One option is to send the infringer a demand letter stating that you are the owner the work, that they are using your material without your authorization, and that they must take it down immediately. Such a letter could cause the infringer to immediately take down the work. Another course of action is to send a notice and takedown letter to the web hosting company (i.e. GoDaddy) indicating that the site is infringing upon your copyright and requesting that the web hosting company take the work down. Additionally, many web hosting companies have their own policies in place, which can typically be found on their website and which will assist a party when their work has been infringed upon.

Also keep in mind that if the possibility of a working relationship could exist between the of the infringer and you or if the exposure may actually be helpful to you by giving you credit for your work, you could try a telephone call first to see if an arrangement can be made where the company can be given a license to use your work. If that does not work, you can proceed with the other options.

For more information, please contact Kim Grimsley.